Like many, you may have made some commitments for the coming year, like exercising regularly, growing your business, finishing a home project. One reason so many of these resolutions fail is that they’re too broad. While admirable, these lofty goals often don’t come with action steps or a defined plan of any kind to help us reach the desired result. Unrealistic goals often do nothing more than increase our stress levels and are uninspiring. Thus, we fail.
There is a concept in Japan called kaizen, which means “continual improvement.” It is the philosophy that large-scale change can happen via small-scale, incremental actions. We might use the phrase “taking baby steps” to describe the basic principle of kaizen. Kaizen is the Japanese term for continuous improvement.
In order to make lasting changes in our lives, the improvements we’ve made have to be maintained.
Kaizen is typically utilized by those who want to create change in their personal lives. As Robert Maurer wrote in his book, One Small Step Can Change Your Life:
By asking small, gentle questions, we keep the fight-or-fight response in the “off” position. Kaizen questions such as “What’s the smallest step I can take to be more efficient?” allow us to bypass our fears. They allow the brain to focus on problem-solving and, eventually, action. Ask a question often enough, and you’ll find your brain storing the questions, turning them over, and generating interesting and useful responses.
For a longer discussion of Kaizen and its application in conflict resolution see my blog post.
So the question I’d like you to ponder is:
¨ What small steps can you take this year to make meaningful change?
Feel free to call me at 301-588-5390 if you want to do some brainstorming.